A Journey Through Asia: Discover The Travel Insights and Culture of Singapore

Jessica Cook shares a mix of culture and travel insights from Singapore.

June 22, 2023

Travel is in our DNA at Sojern. As a global company operating in the travel technology space, we seek new experiences that broaden our understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it. Working on the Travel Insights team here at Sojern, I’m thrilled to share a mix of culture and insights that I experienced traveling around Southeast Asia, with my second stop in Singapore! At each stop, I’ll be highlighting my experiences and travel trends in these new areas. Stay tuned for more blogs in the future or learn more about my first stop in Sri Lanka.

At Sojern, travel is encouraged and I took the opportunity to visit the Sojern Singapore office to meet folks in person to discuss one of my favorite topics: travel insights. Sojern offers an awesome travel benefit—employees get up to 3 hotel nights covered when working from another office.

Singapore’s Latest Travel Trends Post-Border Reopening

Singapore is experiencing a relatively slower return of tourism, which is unsurprising given that a high number of travelers are from other Asian countries. About a month before Singapore’s official border reopening on April 1, 2022, a surge of travelers began booking flights that extended through May 2022. There was a summer dip, yet by the fall, travel behavior was following seasonal trends. Singapore ended 2022 nearly 60% below pre-pandemic levels and is seeing strong growth so far in 2023, with May volumes down only 27%.

Chinese travelers are returning to Singapore and making up over 15% of flight bookings. South Korea, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are also growing in market share for bookings made online in May 2023 vs. May 2022.

On an exciting note—business travel is returning! While the majority of tourism is leisure, increasing business travel is an important sign of economic recovery as Singapore is a financial hub that is home to many global corporations. Significant development projects are underway. During my visit, the streets were busy with lorries carrying construction crews around the city and temporary walls protected the sidewalks from large construction projects. Several cranes were visible on the skyline. 

With the return of business travel, trip duration is declining. Long stays of 15+ days peaked at 17% in Q1 2022 as business travel began recovering from its lowest level since pre-COVID (11% in Q4 2021.) Long stays are expected to continue declining, in part due to increasing business travel, but also because travel restrictions have eased and the workforce shifts towards more hybrid and in office practices.

Generally when travelers plan trips to Singapore, it is not their only destination. Singapore is a large international flight hub. However it is quite small—only 283 square miles, or roughly the size of New York City. Interestingly, Singapore is just as expensive as NYC with both cities on the list of the 2022 most expensive cities to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Travelers most often extend their journey into Malaysia, which connects to Singapore by a one-mile causeway and is the only way to leave Singapore without a boat. Indonesia, which is a 30-minute boat ferry to Batam Island, and Thailand to the north of Malaysia rank 2nd and 3rd most often visited.

Seeing the Sights in Singapore

Singapore is a global financial hub with much to offer both business and leisure travelers.  It is exceptionally safe and clean with world-class attractions like the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay, and Sentosa Island. 

Singapore is ranked 3rd on the International Financial Centers Index, yet it surpasses London and New York in adoption of Fintech. For instance, I visited several local street markets and had my choice of 10+ payment apps to procure my meal. I used Grab almost exclusively throughout my trip because the app worked as a taxi service and meal delivery in every country I visited. In Singapore, I could buy a hot meal out of a vending machine with a QR code. Even the rail system accepted U.S. credit cards with a touch scanner at each station entrance and exit. So convenient. I returned home without any random bills and coins in the Singaporean dollar while purchasing exactly what I wanted during my visit.

Singapore was the only country on this trip where I saw robots in public spaces. During lunch with coworkers at Asia Square, there was an almost shoulder-tall robot accepting empty trays, and in a close-by retail center, I saw a two-foot tall mopping robot. Comically, both had big eyes and smiles.

One of the recommended hotels for visiting Sojern employees is the Oasia Hotel. We upgraded to a club room, which meant views of the city and an exclusive lounge area that boasted happy hour drinks with snacks, a breakfast special menu, massages in the afternoon, laundry drop-off, and a separate concierge desk. The hotel was beautiful, and the outside facade covered in green creeper plants was easily identified from the streets or the cable car to Sentosa Island. Everything in the hotel was modern design and well maintained, although U.S. travelers should remember that living spaces are a bit smaller than what we are likely used to. 

Oasia is centrally located in a very walkable part of Singapore. I spent a fair amount of time at the Sojern office near Asia Square. However, I did get out and explore. Gardens by the Bay has multi-story structures in the shape of trees called the “SuperGrove” that act as vertical gardens for a variety of plants. The Chinatown district was particularly popular just before the Chinese New Year. Maxwell Food Centre was a chill, local street market while Lau Pa Sat was a more upscale, Victorian style market where we saw a good mix of tourists alongside locals.

In future visits, I look forward to visiting Sentosa Island, especially the aquarium, walking through the Bay East Gardens, and ascending into the TreeTop canopy walk

Sojern’s Travel Insights can help you find trends just like this for your destination. Check out our free dashboard today or reach out to one of our travel marketing experts to learn more.

Skyline of Singapore from Faber Park

Sumatran tiger art piece made entirely from waste materials, in front of Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

View of the Singapore Flyer and the Supertree Grove in Gardens by the bay.

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